I learned a lot in the first few days that I was enrolled in the class. Some of my classmates are going through a war… an undeclared war, waged on innocent kids just trying to grow up. Society just doesn’t care about young people anymore, even if we are the future.
Call me corny but I love the movie, The Freedom Writers. If I’m flipping through the channels and it’s on, you best to believe I’m going to watch. Every time I watch the movie I laugh and cry as if it were my first viewing…I can’t believe it took me this long to read the book.
The Freedom Writers Diary was written by The Freedom Writers, about 150 students who named themselves in honor of the civil rights activists the Freedom Riders, with their teacher Erin Gruwell. The Freedom Writers along with their teacher waged war against a community that deemed these students as worthless and unteachable. I think the worst thing was that even many of the teachers at Wilson High School labeled them as at-risk and unsavable.
This diary turned book consists of anonymous diary entries that Gruwell required the students to write in class. The entrees give an inside view into the lives of the students. I was flabbergasted at some of the situations that the students endured at home. But when I really thought about it I wasn’t surprised. There were students who were molested, homeless, drug addicts and abused. However they all shared one common factor — they all wanted to be wanted.
If you look into my eyes, you will see a loving girl.
If you look at my smile, you will sense that nothing is wrong.
If you look in my heart, you will see some pain.
If you pull up my shirtsleeves and look at my arms, you will see black and blue marks.
There’s nothing like knowing that you have family and a community that values you and will keep you safe. The things that kids are forced to deal with are sickening. As I look back on my own childhood, I thank God that he kept me ‘cuz “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” but I made it. I guess that’s why I love this story so much. In life we run across so many people who try to tear and beat us down but we continue to rise. I’m so glad that there was a Ms. Gruwell for these kids and I pray that others who exist are given the resources they need to help our children.
As I think back on my days in high school, my Ms. Gruwells were Mrs. Sermons and Mrs. Gray. If it were not for their love of teaching I’m not sure where I would be. It was in their classes that I truly began to love the written word. It was in their classes that I found hope. I wasn’t just that little fast girl who my uncle declared would be pregnant by the age of 16. I was “young, black and gifted.” As I read this book I was so happy that these students of various hues realized that they were young and gifted and that there are people who really care.
I know that all of the stories won’t end like this one but if we all just do something to ensure that we shine our light so that others can see…just imagine…